It started when I walked in the theater (to see a live stage adaptation of “The Giver”). It seemed like I had simply entered a completely different world. There were gray backdrops and floors, gray furniture, gray chairs, gray everything. There was no color. Everything in the theater seemed to add to the effect, even the costumes.
When the actors came onstage, they all wore the same gray outfit, and I found out afterward that they all wore wigs except for the Mother and Jonas. All of the wigs, except the Giver’s, had dark, straight hair. The Giver’s was very complex, including a special wig for his beard, hair and even eyebrows!
The show proved to be absolutely inspiring. There were some parts that were humorous and others solemn. The actors were so talented at making me feel like I was in the story. The actors even walked and sat simultaneously, with not even a trace of expression on their faces, which contributed to the feeling of sameness and control. The two characters that did express emotion were Jonas (Adrian Hernandez) and the Giver (Dwayne Hartford).
It has to be hard to put so much information in a one-hour play. So, to show how time passed, Jonas moved from one side of the stage to the other to show the transitions from the Giver’s room to his dwelling. I thought that was very clever.
The stage director, Samantha Monson, only had three days to coordinate the video, lights, and sound and to make sure everything stayed in sync during the show, which she did a fantastic job at. Everything was timed perfectly. She did this by talking through a headset to the other people.
There was a lot of technology use in the show. For example, there were towering screens that showed how Jonas saw the world and how that changed from beginning to end. There were parts where the screens showed announcements in the story, thoughts of the characters and memories.
When asked what advice they would give to young actors, each of the cast members shared their words of wisdom:
• “Be kind to everyone you work with and be pleasant to work with,” said Michelle Cunneen (Lily).
• “For me, it’s been a lot of persistence,” said Adrian Hernandez (Jonas).
• Louis Farber (Father) said, “I would say that it is possible to do, and to not let someone tell you that it is not possible.”
• “[Acting] could be your job. I never knew that could be my job,” said Kaleena Newman (Fiona/Rosemary).
• “Prepare yourself to do as many things around the theater ... do music, do dance, learn about stage management, house management, design, costuming, and learn as much stuff as you can beyond just being an actor ... It’s not just me on the stage, it’s many people working together toward a common goal,” said Debra K. Stevens (Mother).
• “A life in the arts is incredibly rewarding,” Dwayne Hartford (The Giver) said, “but I would encourage anyone to pursue it for the arts’ sake because that’s what feeds your soul. Don’t do it to become famous. Do it because it feeds you.”
As you can see, each of the actors and the people who helped make this production possible gave this show their best, making this moving play a must-see for all families to discover the true meaning of choice and freedom.
If you go
What: “The Giver,” a novel beloved by kids and teachers for years, comes to the stage in a moving adaptation that reveals what it means to grow up and take charge of your own future. It’s best for kids age 9 and older.
When: 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10 and Sunday, Nov. 11.
Where: Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway
Cost: Tickets start at $12
Information: (480) 350-2822 or Childsplayaz.org
• This article was originally published by Childsplay, a theater company specializing in productions for young audiences and families.It is part of Childsplay’s Kid Reporter program, in which four local youngsters ages 7-12 write reviews of performances of the 2012-13 season. The reporters also get an exclusive backstage tour and interview with cast members. For more information, visit Childsplayaz.org.
About the author
Lizzie Stewart, 12, of Chandler: Mix some singing and playing the piano in a bowl, and add some reading and writing. Bake it in music for 12 years, and when it’s done, pour some French on it. And for serving, maybe sprinkle on some imagination. Put it all together, and you have a recipe that makes a Lizzie Stewart. She is a spirited 12 year old who cannot live without writing and acting. She’s thrilled to be a Kid Reporter for Childsplay since her dream is to write a book and have it published someday. Being a Kid Reporter is the icing on the cake!